The Pentagon has accelerated the training of Ukrainian soldiers in the use of Western artillery weapons, drones and radar systems since early April, new reports by The Hill newspaper have revealed.
The Washington news portal, citing defense officials, reported on Thursday that U.S. training for Ukrainian soldiers had been a regular occurrence even before the war. It stated that from 2015 until the weeks leading up to the Russian offensive, a total of 23,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been trained in Ukraine, mostly by members of the U.S. National Guard.
According to the paper, the Pentagon withdrew U.S. troops from the Eastern European country in the run-up to the attack. The U.S. Department of Defense announced late last month that training had not stopped: Ukrainian soldiers would be taken abroad and trained to use Western military equipment and weapons, mostly in European facilities.
“They’re getting a quick start on the devices they’re going to get,” General Joseph Hilbert, commander of the 7th U.S. Training Center in Europe, told the paper. “The goal is for them to be able to return home as soon as possible and to train their fellow soldiers to use the equipment themselves,” he added.
The Hill also cites an example: it writes that 220 Ukrainians have been trained to use the American M777 towed howitzer, with Washington promising 90 such artillery pieces to Kiev. Meanwhile, 20 men have been trained to control the Phoenix Ghost drones, of which Ukraine can count on 121.
Ukraine has received significant units of military hardware from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and Poland in particular. Analysts have warned, however, that many of the weapons Ukraine received are one or two generations behind current systems.
Also, the large variety of military hardware Ukraine has received has not only provided the country with weapons most of their soldiers are not familiar with, but the sheer diversity of them would create a logistical nightmare to provide ammunition, maintenance and spare parts should these weapons survive long enough.